Lego has been exploring alternatives to plastic to meet sustainability requirements, but has so far failed to find a material durable enough to last for generations.
The Lego Group has scrapped plans to make its bricks from recycled bottles, a plan put forward by the company in an attempt to cut carbon emissions. Lego said in 2021 that it was targeting the production of bricks which did not contain crude oil within two years, however the company has now discovered that using the new material failed to reduce carbon emissions. Lego said it remains “fully committed” to making bricks from sustainable materials.
Many Lego bricks are made using acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS), a virgin plastic made from crude oil, and high profile efforts by the company to improve its green credentials had promised that such materials would be phased out. Lego has been exploring alternative materials to plastic in order to reduce its own carbon footprint, as well as adress sustainability becoming increasingly important to consumers.
One of the challenges has been finding a material durable enough to last for generations. In 2021, Lego reported it had developed prototype bricks made from polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles, with other chemicals added, but more than two years of testing has found that using recycled PET didn’t reduce carbon emissions.
Lego explained that this is because extra steps are required in the production process, using more energy. As a result, it has “decided not to progress” with making bricks from the alternative material.
Lego said it is currently continuing to test and develop bricks made from “a range of alternative sustainable materials”. Speaking to the Financial Times, Niels Christiansen, Lego chief executive, said there was no “magic material” to resolve the firm’s sustainability challenges: “We tested hundreds and hundreds of materials,” he commented. “It’s just not been possible to find a material like that.”
However, a spokesperson for Lego told the BBC: “We remain fully committed to making Lego bricks from sustainable materials by 2032. We are investing more than $1.2b in sustainability initiatives in the four years to 2025 as part of our efforts to transition to more sustainable materials and reduce our carbon emissions by 37% by 2032.”